Researching the Emergence of 3D Printing, Makerspaces, Hackerspaces and FabLabs in the Global South: A Scoping Review and Research Agenda on Digital Innovation and Fabrication Networks

Ryoung Seo-Zindy, Richard Heeks


Enabled by ICTs and digital fabrication tools such as 3D printing, and facilitated by shared workspaces such as makerspaces and FabLabs, digital innovation and fabrication networks (DIFNs) are emerging globally. To open the debate on this nascent phenomenon in the global South, this paper examines the current state of knowledge and offers future research directions. Through a systematic scoping review of 70 articles, it identifies a need for more empirical and more conceptualised research, particularly on under-researched regions including Latin America, Africa and most of Asia. Three research topic areas are identified for immediate attention: the nature of production processes within DIFNs; the relationship between DIFNs and the wider innovation systems within which they sit; and the tension between the open and closed worldviews manifest in DIFNs.


3D printing; makerspaces; hackerspaces; FabLabs; digital fabrication; digital innovation; literature review

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The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries.
ISSN: 1681-4835